Romania’s Nicolae Ciucă tapped again to form new government – POLITICO



Romanian President Klaus Iohannis on Monday asked Nicolae Ciucă to form a new government, after weeks of negotiations between Ciucă’s National Liberal Party (PNL) and its former arch-rivals, the Social Democratic Party (PSD).

The liberals turned to the Social Democrats after they failed to rebuild the coalition they had until September. That grouping had been backed by reformists in the Union to Save Romania (USR), who had sided with the liberals in the December 2020 election.

The ethnic Hungarian UDMR party, which was included in the previous center-right coalition, will also be part of the PSD-PNL alliance.

Parliament is scheduled to vote on the nomination on November 25.

A former military officer, Ciucă had withdrawn from a previous attempt at forming a minority government early in November following insufficient support. His lack of political experience has come under criticism from some liberal colleagues.

“Romanians are expecting us to provide stability and solutions to solve the effects of the pandemic and the energy crisis,” Ciucă said after Monday’s announcement. “I hope that from Thursday we will start working seriously.”

Meanwhile, Iohannis expressed confidence that a “solid majority in parliament” would back Ciucă, his close ally, this time.

A Iohannis aide told POLITICO that the president has pushed for the alliance with the PSD — despite his earlier acerbic criticism of the center-left party — in part because “in the current context it is important to have a government.”

That’s a reference to the health crisis that hit Romania, one of the least-vaccinated countries in the EU, which has been devastated by the most recent coronavirus wave.

For now, the alliance with Social Democrats is taking a heavy political toll on the liberals, who have fewer seats in parliament and are now seen as the junior partner despite providing the prime minister.

The PNL’s ex-leader, former Prime Minister Ludovic Orban, said he will quit the party to protest the alliance, pointing to the deep rupture that opened up in last year’s election campaign. “As of today, for me, the PNL has died in bed with the PSD,” he said.

Under the terms of the coalition, Ciucă will serve only a year and a half as the government’s leader, after which the PSD is set to have its turn, according to media statements.

The PSD will also have more cabinet ministers, including finance, transport, agriculture, defense, health and labor — by far the most powerful and well-resourced departments.

However, some liberals doubt the new government will survive. “Very few people expect this government to last more than a year,” said one party official. “We will inevitably [have our] differences with the PSD.”

Among the liberals, she added, “opinion is very divided” over the deal, with about half of its MPs “unhappy about the split of ministries.”

“Our party did everything it could to stay in government,” she said.

PSD spokespeople didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment. But the party’s leader, Marcel Ciolacu, told local media that the party “has demonstrated in this period of crisis that it’s the most responsible party and the most stable. I hope the other parties show the same political maturity.”




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